Illinois State baseball continued its struggles this season with a 4-1 loss to Western Illinois Tuesday at Duffy Bass Field.
The Redbirds found themselves in a hole early after two of the first three batters reached, Western’s Chris Tschida delivered the first run of the game on an RBI single. The next batter, Johnathan Fleek, would then send a sacrifice fly to right to bring in Adam McGinnis, extending their lead to two. Despite the two earned runs coach Bo Durkac liked what he saw from starter Jack Bellinger.
“I thought the first inning was a little misleading. I thought Jack did a good job getting ground balls, but that inning they put guys in motion and it got them two runs on a day runs were hard to come by,” Durkac said.
The Leathernecks’ pitching staff thwarted the Redbird line up for the majority of the game. As they used seven pitchers to allow just one run on five hits while striking out 10. The lone blemish came in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore Owen Miller sent a solo shot over the left field wall. Miller collected two of the team’s five hits and now boasts a .329 average.
In relief, sophomore Jeff Lindgren stifled the Leathernecks in the middle innings. Lindgren tossed four scoreless innings while allowing just one hit to the 12 batters he faced.
In the seventh, Lindgren was replaced by Jack Spicer and things began to go south. A single and a misplayed bunt allowed the first two batters to reach before Spicer walked Austin Emanuel to load the bases. After a failed squeeze attempt, Dave Dobrinich delivered a one-out base hit to drive in Mitch Ellis. With two outs McGinnis struck out but Collin Braithwaite’s errant throw to first on the drop third allowed Emanuel to score and extend the inning.
“Western deserves all the credit. They out pitched us and out hit us tonight,” Durkac said. “However, if we don’t kick the ball around, mishandle a bunt and throw the ball away then it’s just a 2-1 game after six.”
The Redbirds squandered a couple opportunities to get back in the game. In the fifth, they loaded the bases with two outs, but freshman John Rave failed to deliver after grounding out to second. Then in the eighth with runners on second and third and one out, Braithwaite struck out swinging and Derek Parola flied out to end the threat.
The offensive struggle came as a surprise after the team averaged six runs a game through its last four.
“We just didn’t play very well tonight,” Durkac said. “We played well against Bradley last weekend, scored 18 runs in three games, but we just couldn’t do anything tonight and that’s the way it is.”
The win was the Leathernecks’ sixth in their last seven games, while the Redbirds have now dropped eight of their last 10 games. Next up, they will travel to take on MVC foe Wichita State for a three-game set beginning Friday at ECK Stadium.